Chicago-based DJ Topher Jones returned to his hometown Indianapolis, Indiana, to perform at the 1st annual WheelHouse Festival, a two-day electronic dance music event held outdoors at Opti Park with after-parties indoors at The Vogue in Broad Ripple on Friday, September 13th and Saturday, September 14th, 2013. Jones delivered a high-energy, very powerful, standout performance during Friday night's WheelHouse Festival After-Party at the Vogue leaving many on the crowded dance floor sweaty, out-of-breath, and physically spent. Jones intelligently weaved his musical magic for over sixty minutes while including his recent singles, 'Hello Chicago' and 'Brohammer'. He briefly encountered technical difficulties at the beginning of his set that most certainly went unnoticed by many due to his supreme proficiency and skill. He continued as if nothing happened and delivered a seamless performance. Jones has been producing records and writing songs in electronic dance music for over four years and is currently signed to Ultra Records. He has a sincere love of his profession and a complete dedication to and passion for his craft.
I recently had the honor of interviewing Jones in-person a few minutes prior to his performance at the Vogue. He was noticeably excited, but also somewhat distracted as family members began arriving to the venue.
William Kelly Milionis: Thank you for taking time to chat before you hit the stage here at the Vogue in Broad Ripple [Indianapolis, Indiana] for your set during the inaugural WheelHouse Festival after-party.
Topher Jones: Thank you.
Kelly: Now, you are originally from Indianapolis, Indiana?
Topher: Yes, I grew up in Zionsville, which is twenty minutes north of here [from The Vogue in Broad Ripple].
Kelly: What school did you attend?
Topher: Zionsville High School.
Kelly: Did you go to college in Indianapolis?
Topher: I went to DePauw. Yes, the one with a 'W'. The one in Greencastle and not DePaul in Chicago [laughing]. Yeah, the one with the 'W'.
Kelly: Did you study any form of music in school?
Topher: No, I definitely was not studying music in college. I was a philosophy major with an econ minor. I started writing music when I was in college. That's when I really started experimenting with it. I took a couple of classes. As you know, DePauw is a liberal arts school, so you have to take a variety of stuff. I took a couple classes with music, but I definitely was not studying music.
Kelly: When did you move to Chicago?
Topher: I graduated in '07; then lived in Zionsville for about a year and a half; and then moved to England on and off for a year and a half; and then once I got back from England, it was 'let's go to Chicago'. That was back in 2010. So it has been three years in Chicago now.
Kelly: How long have you been a professional DJ?
Topher: Um, man, I don't know...that's an interesting question. I guess I haven't had another job since the summer of 2009; so I guess four years.
Kelly: Do you play any musical instruments? Were you raised on music?
Topher: I played piano a little bit. I stopped taking lessons when I was young and I punch myself everyday for that. My mom is an amazing piano player. Music just runs all in her side of the family. My younger brother is an incredible musician and piano player. So, I have been around it my whole life. I think my ear got developed more than me sitting at a piano and playing stuff. I do wish I would have kept playing piano though. It's such a cool thing. I don't have, essentially, any formal training.
Kelly: Would you consider bringing your brother in to play with you?
Topher: We wrote a song together for my album and it's one of my favorite things on the album. It's a beautiful, beautiful piece of music. That's a really special cool thing. My younger brother is one of my best friends. Same as my older brother. My older brother is not musical at all, but we get to share that moment. We were in the studio and we wrote something. We both thought this was amazing and that's going to go on the album. It's a really, really special thing.
Kelly: How long have you been on your tour?
Topher: The 'Hello North America Tour' was what I was doing by myself and that kind of ended with Spring Awakening and then this tour with Tritonal started July 11th in Orlando, FL and then it ends October 11th. So, a good couple of months.
Kelly: So you are currently not doing two separate tours?
Topher: No, once this one ends I will be doing a couple of headlining shows myself and then I go on tour with Morgan Page for a month.
Kelly: Have you played the new Palladium at the Castle in Chicago yet?
Topher: No, I haven't. I play at Studio Paris a lot in Chicago and then I've played the MID but I've never played at Castle.
Kelly: Do you have a favorite club in Chicago?
Topher: Studio Paris has been a great place for me to grow and develop my Chicago fanbase. They have been super supportive of me so I have to give a nod to them and they definitely have been the most supportive of me. The MID is an amazing club, the new Castle is really, really cool. Chicago has just got such an amazing scene it's so healthy with so many big artists coming through all the time so it's a great place to be living right now.
Kelly: What would be your favorite city, other than Chicago, to perform in the US?
Topher: You know, Orlando is amazing; amazing shows there. And, man, Hawaii! I have played there twice this year and both of them were like 8,000 people on the beach so it's hard to argue with that. It's Hawaii and you're on a beach with 8,000 people going crazy. I can't, I can't, I can't really argue with that one so I think that one always gets the nod and because it's an exotic place to play.
Kelly: When is your album scheduled to be released?
Topher: February  is when we have it set now if everything gets done in time which we are on track right now. Who knows what the label might say, maybe you should change that and put it out a couple of months later; who knows but the plan is for it to come out in February. I've got two singles coming out before then. 'Talk About It' comes out next month [October] and then another song called, 'Falling For You' comes out in December so those are the two next big singles. And then the album comes out in February.
Kelly: Any with vocalists?
Topher: Both of them are vocal tracks.
Kelly: Female? Male?
Topher: The first one, 'Talk About It' is a female and 'Falling For You' is a male.
Kelly: Would you like to elaborate who they might be?
Topher: Yes, Katie Sky is the girl who sings on 'Talk About It'. She is a good friend of mine from England and then the guy who sings on 'Falling For You' is a very good friend of mine called Mark Underdown and they are both really special tracks. All my friends and other DJ's who've heard them have said these are the two biggest best tracks that you have done so we have high expectations for them.
Kelly: Were you able to check out any of the acts earlier in the day at Opti Park?
Topher: No, I didn't. I had a show at Penn State University last night and the night before that was Jacksonville so it's been flying. I got back into town [Indianapolis, Indiana] at 7:00pm, took a nap, showered and then came here [The Vogue for his set at 11:30pm]. So, I gotta take care of myself first and I have family in town that I have to hang out with [laughing].
Kelly: Would you ever consider working with Nadia Ali?
Topher: You know, she has a really cool voice but I don't know that it would fit with what I am doing right now. But, she definitely has a legendary voice and it's definitely something that I have obviously thought it would be cool. Because she has done so many legendary tracks for such a long period of time too. Not like she has had one or two good years. She has been doing this for ten years and still is solid. she has a great voice but with what I'm doing right now, I'm not sure it would really fit. I definitely respect what she is doing.
Kelly: Thank you for taking time before your set to chat. Wish you much success.
Topher: Thank you.